Promedica Health System is a Preview of 21st Century Hospital Security/Access Control
Health network strives for cutting-edge access control such as biometrics for surgery rooms and RFID transponders for parking lots.
For Immediate Release Sept. 2, 2008
John Parris Frantz
Toledo, Ohio — Flower Hospital’s surgery room is just one example of perpetuating state-of-the-art technology updates that gives Promedica Health System (PHS),Toledo, Ohio, one of the most cutting-edge healthcare access control/security systems in the nation today.
In an effort to eliminate the challenge of surgeons, nurses and support staff from fumbling with ID badges through scrubs or forgetting them, PHS’s Sylvania, Ohio-based hospital’s surgery room grants door entry access through hypoallergenic/antimicrobial coated biometric hand readers. The access control system increases entry speed in critical situations and most importantly creates a highly secure entry beyond card swipe technology that also allows PHS central security personnel to monitor and record through the hospital’s Frontier access control system software by Matrix Systems, Dayton, Ohio.
Registration is a two-minute process in Flower Hospital’s security center. Surgery room personnel enroll with a biometric hand scan by an identical model of the Hand Key II by Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies (IRST), West Midlands, U.K. The hand scan template is processed and attached to the employee’s security ID profile in the Frontier access control software. Matrix Systems’ PHS account supervisor, William Kuebler, engineered the project and coordinated firmware writing by Matrix Systems’ engineering department. Consequently, the interface between the IRST’s Hand Key II software and the access control software was seamless and now enables Flower Hospital’s security manager, Jonathan Jones, easy control over the enrollment procedure. Once enrolled, the employees enter the surgery room via the Hand Key II’s keypad code followed by a biometric hand scan in a process that spans five seconds or less.
While the surgery room access is a success, PHS’ lock shop is used as a beta site to test biometric hand readers for future applications, which will be brought on line in additional sensitive security locations in the future.
Biometrics is just one example of cutting edge security that Donald Sullivan, security system technology specialist, and James Hofbauer, security director, both of PHS’ Central Region, are continually incorporating into the eight-hospital, not-for-profit healthcare organization that services 27 counties in northwest and west central Ohio and southeast Michigan.
Another cutting-edge example is The Toledo Hospital campus’ 145-space physician parking lot/garage. Previously physicians had to swipe ID cards or punch in ID numbers at a Matrix System access control card reader to enter the facility. Now physicians have windshield-attached transponders that allow a more convenient and quicker hospital parking lot/garage entry. Because the wireless RF system sends entry information directly to the security department’s access control workstation, physicians are logged in immediately upon entering the campus. “If there’s an emergency and a need for a particular doctor, we know if that doctor is on campus,” said Hofbauer. “Plus, doctors are our customers too, so this is also a convenience for them because they no longer need to worry about remembering ID numbers or cards.”
Integrating the Sirit Inc., Toronto, Ontario, IDentity Flex system into more proprietary access control brands can be impossible, however PHS’ access control system was easily interfaced. Like the surgery room biometric reader integration, Matrix Systems not only installed the three receiver/antenna stations in the parking area, but also configured a Matrix Interface Board, a patented Matrix Interface Board (MIB) that streamlines software compatibility between the access control software and vendors such as Sirit. Thus, the parking lot entry system is a fully integrated component of the hospital’s overall access control security. "There are a lot of great new security products on the market, but you must have access control software with interfacing capabilities so that different brands of new readers function just like any of the other hundreds of existing readers in the overall access control system,” said Hofbauer. “We saved significant costs because instead of administering a whole new system, the Sirit system could be integrated into our existing access control system.”
Sullivan and Hofbauer acknowledged PHS’ ongoing investments in state-of-the-art technology to ensure that they have a superior security system and monitoring in place at all of its hospitals. One example is PHS’ addition of over 400 closed circuit TV (CCTV) and 25 digital video recorders (DVR) combinations by Panasonic of North America, Secaucus, N.J. in the last five years.
Yet another example of administrative support is PHS new Renaissance Tower, which is located on the campus of The Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children’s Hospital. The security department’s innovative ideas were invited from the very first design stages of the 500,000-square-foot facility to ensure the mission of state-of-the-art access control was retained.
PHS also uses cutting edge technology to cut security costs without sacrificing functionality. For example, the Matrix Systems Gateway—an IP-centric device that substitutes for more expensive full-fledged systems of security personnel, database servers, building controllers and workstations—is used at remote facilities, such as clinics, doctor offices and other locations that have a minimum amount of doors to control. These facilities still have full monitoring with CCTV and DVR’s, plus physical door strike/lock capabilities all handled from a PHS central security office via the hospital’s network.
The PHS security system will continue to be cutting edge in the next 10 years because of strong corporate support combined with Sullivan and Hofbauer’s penchant for using high technology to solve security challenges. “We’re looking at new technology every day,” said Hofbauer. “As technology changes, we make our recommendations to the administration on risk management evaluation, how the community changes, and other factors.”